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Documentary on Spirit of the West singer wins VIFF award

John Mann is shown singing at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver in a scene from the documentary Spirit Unforgettable.

Audiences at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival have chosen a film about the lead singer of the Vancouver band Spirit of the West and his struggle with Alzheimer's disease as the most popular Canadian documentary.

Spirit Unforgettable, directed by Pete McCormack, was honoured with the award on Friday as this year's festival concluded after 16 days.

The film revolves around how being diagnosed with Alzheimer's affected singer John Mann, his wife Jill, their family and members of Spirit. Mr. Mann attended the film's premiere screening at VIFF.

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Maudie, a dramatic film about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, won the Super Channel People's Choice Award. Maudie, which is set in the 1930s and stars Sally Hawkins as Ms. Lewis and also features Ethan Hawke, opened this year's VIFF.

Audience awards at VIFF are based on voting through post-screening ballots in which films are rated on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest grade.

I, Daniel Blake, directed by Ken Loach, was named the VIFF Most Popular International Feature, and the French film Human, directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, was named the VIFF Most Popular Documentary.

Canadian filmmaker Nettie Wild won the Women in Film and Television Artistic Merit Award for her documentary KONELINE: Our Land Beautiful, which chronicles the politics of development in northwestern British Columbia.

Earlier at VIFF, nine awards spotlighted the work of B.C. and Canadian filmmakers.

Directs Jessica Parsons and Jennifer Chiu won the Ignite Award for exceptional work in a key creative role on a B.C.-produced feature or short film for their work on Cabbie, a short film about three cab drivers in Vancouver.

Anne Marie Fleming won the Best B.C. Film Award for her animated film Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming). Ms. Fleming was also honoured with an award for Best Canadian film.

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Kevan Funk won the B.C. Emerging Filmmaker Award for his hockey drama Hello Destroyer.

Sofia Bohdanowicz won the award for Emerging Canadian Director for Never Eat Alone, an Ontario-set feature about aging and memory.

Directors Sebastien Rist and Aude Leroux-Levesque were honoured with the Best Canadian Documentary award for their film Living with Giants, which is about native youth in the Canadian north.

The Best B.C. Short Film award went to Julia Hutchings for the film Here Nor There.

The Best Canadian Short Film award went to Ceux qui restent/Those Who Remain, directed by Mathieu Vachon.

And the award for Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film went to Parent, Teacher, directed by Roman Tchjen.

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The VIFF Impact Award for a notable issues-oriented documentary went to Power to Change – The Energy Rebellion, directed by Carl-A Fechner.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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